Tug masters, trainees and owners can gain safety and commercial benefits using simulators
Tug captains can now practice scenarios such as operating tugboats in different ports with new infrastructure without risking themselves or company assets using tug simulators. Masters can practice ship manoeuvring in new terminals, escorting different types of ships, docking and unberthing and try more fuel-efficient modes in a safe environment.
Seafarers can gain new skills or refine existing expertise on simulators and gain a better understanding of towing the latest ships. Tutors can change the outside environment, such as weather, current and tides, to test tug operators’ competence in handling their vessel and its interaction with assisted ships and other tugs.
In these ways, simulators can prevent tug-related accidents and help operators reduce fuel costs. Using human element learning packages, captains can also improve their crew resource management. By connecting tug simulators to those that mimic bridge systems on merchant ships, they can practice communicating with pilots and captains of assisted vessels.
Simulator training is also a green technology, as there are no emissions compared with practicing these skills on a vessel in real life.
Tug Training & Consultancy (TTC) delivers many of these life-enhancing skills at its main training centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and has exported this experience to the Middle East.
TTC has started providing maritime training to tug masters and deepsea pilots in the United Arab Emirates and is working with Abu Dhabi Ports to train personnel at regional tug operator Abu Dhabi Marine Services (Safeen’s) request.
TTC provides on-the-job training to pilots and tugs operating at the newly expanded Khalifa Port’s container ship and bulk carrier terminals. Safeen provides marine services at the port, including ship escort and handling, docking and unberthing.
This training improves pilots and tug masters’ competence and communications for operating in the port, to prevent incidents and improve the efficiency of their joint operations.
TTC general manager Patrick Everts says joint pilot/tug master training is frequently requested by ports around the world to increase port safety and efficiency. Information can be transferred more effectively between groups of people and joint operations can be practiced.
“Our dedicated staff provided on-the-job training to prepare the local tug masters and the deepsea pilots to assist capesize bulkers on centre lead operations,” says Mr Everts. Capesize bulk carriers started calling at Khalifa port in March 2019 and require a different type of assistance to what was done in the port previously.
“During the last months, 10 tug masters and 10 deepsea pilots with operational skills were retrained to become familiar with the towing method they will use for the new operations,” says Mr Everts.
“When we train tug masters in vessel operations, we leave them with a firm appreciation of how their actions impact others around them”
Training raises standards, situational awareness and collaboration between masters and pilots. “We believe that improved safety, efficiency and profitability are achieved when everybody properly understands the complete picture,” says Mr Everts. “When we train tug masters in vessel operation, we leave them with a firm appreciation of how their actions impact others around them.”
Consultancy means more than just providing training, as simulation can be used to test towage methods and berthing operations before a port is opened.
“We use our in-depth knowledge of tug operations to provide clients with the best possible advice on tug design, harbour or jetty layout and nautical processes,” says Mr Everts. “One of the core focus areas within TTC’s training and consultancy projects is to raise standards of nautical service providers through improved collaboration.”
Safeen is the marine arm of Abu Dhabi Ports. It handles a wide variety of vessels in different Abu Dhabi ports and harbours and around floating offshore terminals, including tankers, gas carriers, container ships, bulkers, and general cargo ships. It has an advanced tugboat fleet and skilled crew thanks partially to TTC.
In the Netherlands, TTC has DNV GL Class-A approved 360˚ tug bridge simulators to teach tug competences on tug types including Rotortugs, azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs, tractor and Voith Schneider tugs and infield service vessels. Its training programs include:
TTC can also create interaction between ships in the same simulated environment for operations such as complex offshore floatover projects involving multiple tugs, decommissioning projects, precarious harbour towage operations and specialised transport towage.
TTC owns a 15-m Rotortug with 10 tonnes of bollard pull that can be used for real towage operations. This enables trainees to put their learning into practice for first-hand experience. TTC also uses this vessel and the onshore simulators to demonstrate and trial remote control operations.
New UK simulators
Wärtsilä Voyage Simulation has supplied simulators to two new training centres opening on the south coast of the UK this year. It supplied a full suite of simulators for a new training facility at Solent University’s Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering, located in Southampton. Wärtsilä is also supplying and configuring the software solutions for a new training facility in Portsmouth.
Wärtsilä’s scope of supply for the Southampton facility included navigational bridges, engineroom, liquid cargo handling, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), and crane operation simulators.
Warsash School of Maritime dean Syamantak Bhattacharya says the “simulation centre will be a central pillar of our maritime education, training and research programme” which is why it needed the latest simulator technology.
Simulation training bridges the gap between the Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW), and the required level of competency. STCW sets the minimum qualification standards for masters, officers, and watch personnel. In Portsmouth, Viking Maritime Group is opening a maritime skills academy with Wärtsilä bridge and engineroom simulators.
“We have spent years developing simulators for tugs and ship-ship interaction”
Wärtsilä voyage simulation and training expert Alex Ponomarev says tug simulators provide masters with experience of operating in various ports in a virtual environment.
“We have spent years developing simulators for tugs and ship-ship interaction,” he tells Tug Technology & Business. Some of the elements involved in these programs include hull resistance of tugs, the waterflow around them, and their impact on tug manoeuvres.
“Tug master training modelling has to be 100% accurate because tug masters already know their operations in ports,” says Mr Ponomarev.
Wärtsilä provides tug simulators with projectors or multiple layers of screens to provide up to 360˚ of visualisation. “Monitors are positioned in strategic positions to look like windows of the wheelhouse, so trainees will know what it is like being on that tug,” says Mr Ponomarev. “We have accurate representations of the tug bridge with similar consoles and controls to what is used on real tugs.” Wärtsilä developed 3D capabilities to these tug simulators.
“Tug master training modelling has to be 100% accurate"
The next developments in tug training could involve using augmented reality (AR) and gamification, which introduces competitive elements from video games.
AR provides trainees with additional information on screens during training. This could advise trainees what devices and buttons do on a vessel or a console.
“We are considering AR and gamification,” says Mr Ponomarev. “We have tools in our E-Tutor to enable simulator operators to send messages to trainees to prompt them,” he explains. Wärtsilä has also included scoring processes in simulators to engage with trainees.
Kongsberg Digital has gained orders for simulators including bridge and engineroom trainers from centres in Belgium, South Korea and Australia. It is suppling simulators to the Flemish Service for Employment and Vocational Training (VDAB)’s facilities in Zeebrugge, Belgium. This included a K-Sim bridge simulator specifically for dredgers to help students gain greater understanding of the dynamic nature of dredging operations.
The Royal Australian Navy has ordered new K-Sim full mission bridge simulators for its HMAS Watson Bridge facility in Sydney, Australia. These will be used to train naval officers undertaking all levels of shiphandling, navigation, warfare and bridge management courses.
Kongsberg Digital also won a contract in Q2 2019 to deliver suites of simulators on two training ships operated by the Korea Maritime and Ocean University and Mokpo National Maritime University. These simulators will have a range of maritime workstations and sensors linked to the actual bridges on these training ships.
VStep Simulation has delivered simulators that emulate vessel operations on inland waterways. Its Nautis Inland simulators are now fully compliant with the new European Standard for Qualification in Inland Navigation (ES-QIN 2018). They have been purchased by two training centres in northern Europe for training navigation on inland waterways.
This includes new equipment for the Maritime Academy Harlingen for teaching inland vessel manoeuvring, handling and navigation and operations in coastal waters. These simulators include the maritime package within VStep’s upgraded response simulator for safety and emergency training.
The Polytechnique School de Huy in Belgium will also receive a Nautis full mission inland simulator. The school specialises in inland shipping and conducts training on two dedicated vessels. These will be home for the new Nautis simulators, which will be used by students to practice their skills in inland vessel manoeuvring, handling, navigation and communication.
Merger produces e-training supergroup
E-learning providers Videotel and Seagull will collaborate to produce new training content when they are supported by the same private equity group. This will bring together more than 40 years of experience in maritime training provision and ambitions to invest in new courses.
Oakley Capital Investments has partnered with the management teams and investors to purchase UK-headquartered Videotel Marine from VSAT provider KVH Industries for US$90M. This is eight weeks after it completed the acquisition of Norway-based Seagull from its shareholders.
According to Oakley Capital managing partner Peter Dubens, both e-training business will be managed separately, but will collaborate on producing new content and technology.
Seagull managing director Roger Ringstad says investment will deliver a broader range of training. “As the industry continues to make advancements in digitalisation, we see significant opportunities to further enhance the breadth and depth of products and services we offer our clients,” he says.
Videotel managing director Raal Harris thinks this partnership is a historic moment for maritime e-learning. “In combining our expertise and sharing the additional resources that Oakley can provide, we will be able to meet the needs of our customers in ways never previously possible,” says Mr Harris.
Once the Videotel acquisition is completed, Seagull chairman and founder Oscar Johansen will be appointed president of the combined group. Mr Ringstad and Mr Harris will continue to lead Seagull and Videotel, respectively.
In April 2019, Seagull Maritime purchased software company Tero Marine to combine fleet management software with computer-based training products in one group.
Smart Tug Operations Conference will be held in Singapore on 16 September 2019